It is increasingly becoming more popular to take your furry friend with you when you go! But you need to be sure your dog is comfortable and happy going with you. If you have a puppy or smaller/tiny dog, you really need to carry it. Their little legs cannot keep up with your pace or go as long a distance as you most likely intend to go. A dog backpack carrier is a good option to ensure you, your dog, and those around you are safe and comfortable.

What You Will Learn from This Guide:

How Does It Work?

You may want to carry your dog front-facing or back-facing with its “legs out”. You may want your dog completely contained and zipped up tightly. Or, you may want your dog securely contained but allow its head to poke out one of the openings (for visibility and air). Your decision depends on you and your dog’s personality, tolerance, and joy of being exposed to the public.

Different Types of Doggie Backpack Carriers

Before you decide what type of dog backpack carrier you need, determine how you intend to use it. Will you only use it for short walks or for camping and long hikes? Will you be traveling on an airplane? There are multi-function carriers that fold flat or convert from a backpack into a shoulder tote or a doggie car seat.

Back-Facing v. Front-Facing

You commonly see cyclists or hikers with back-facing backpack carriers. They are sturdier carriers and many have multiple zippered mesh windows for airflow and pockets for carrying leashes, water bottle, and other essentials.

For walking or everyday errands, some of you may prefer a front-facing dog carrier. These are “designer carriers” that are generally less expensive, more whimsical, and may appear similar to a front baby carrier. These front-facing dog carriers have cutouts for dog legs and tail. These are called a “legs out front” dog carrier designs.

Long-Distance Travel Backpack Carriers

It is becoming more common to take your dog with you on long trips and vacations that include plane, train, ferry, or other communal transportation. However, carriers that are suitable for a walk, hike, or short car trip, may not be airline-approved, for instance.

There are multi-function dog carrier backpacks that are ideal for any type of travel. Most airlines have pet policies and regulate carrier types and sizes. Contact the airline or other transport before buying a backpack carrier to ensure which types of pet backpacks they accept and if it suits your daily as well as your long-travel needs.

What to Look For When Buying a Dog Backpack Carrier

Weigh and measure your dog. Accurate measurements are critical. Measure your pet’s chest, front/hind leg firth, and distance between the front legs to ensure a comfortable fit.

Size and Weight

The dog backpack carrier must fit the size of your dog. If the carrier is too big, your dog may not feel secure and remain calm. If the carrier is too small, your dog might stress, overheat, or panic. Measure your dog carefully.

Even if the backpack carrier’s specifications say it can support your dog’s weight, you must ensure the carrier is big enough to comfortably accommodate your dog for a relatively long period.

Comfort

You get a doggie backpack carrier to take your furry friend with you. You don’t want it to be stressful. Comfort is important for both of you. The size and weight of the carrier should fit your pet and be easy on you.

Padded straps allow you to carry your dog easier and longer. Adjustable straps also allow several people to share one backpack carrier without discomfort to person or pup.

Air Flow

Ventilation is an important factor of these pet carrier backpacks. Dogs easily overheat and dehydrate when they feel trapped with little airflow.

Most carrier backpacks are made of breathable/washable material. They may be mesh panels that allow airflow and animal visibility. The carrier should allow ample room for the animal to re-position. Cramped pets tend to stress, which raises their temperature.

Best Dog Backpack Carriers - Product Review

A good dog backpack carrier is comfortable for you as well as for your dog! It should be durable, have adequate ventilation, and have well-padded, adjustable straps for secure and balanced carry. Some products may include design/color, easy care, and storage features.

PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack

PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack: photo

This PAWABOO pet carrier backpack is a trendy, colorful, durable, front-facing, tail-and-legs-out bag. It fits pets up to 22 lbs. Your furry friend is secured inside by an inner collar while legs and tail hang free through flexible elastic openings. Hook/loop, zipper, and quick release buckles simplify installation and allow your pet to ride safely.

This carrier has two adjustable, easy-fit shoulder straps. Clips reduce pressure on your shoulders and neck. Breathable mesh and canvas allow maximum ventilation. There are also two mesh side panels for added airflow.

The downside is the lack of shoulder strap padding, which can make longer trips tedious over time. You may also not like the time it takes to put your pet into this carrier since it must be completely unzipped before putting your pet into it.

Recommendations:

This inexpensive colorfully trendy bag works best for short-haired pets and for shorter trips. It is recommended for shorter trips due to its “legs out front” design and lack of fully-padded straps. Due to its design, getting the correct size is also very important for your pet’s comfort.

TOMKAS Small Dog Cat Carrier Sling

TOMKAS Small Dog Carrier Sling: photo

The TOMKAS pet carrier is a casual hands-free sling bag that is well-suited for short trips. This bag is not a purse! It is 23.6” x 11.8” making it suitable for a pet up to 12 lbs. (although it is not recommended for pets over 10 lbs.). The single shoulder strap’s length may be adjusted. A security lock attaches to the safe collar hook to ensure your pet sits and rides safely. The breathable, thick, soft polyester, reversible fabric maximizes ventilation and is machine washable.

The primary drawback is that it is not suitable for a pet over the recommended 10-lb. limit. If your pet is bigger, you may have to shop for a bigger backpack carrier.

Recommendations:

The stylish TOMKAS reversible sling bag design distributes the (pet) load well. It also allows you to always be in close contact with your pet. It is recommended for short trips and for first-time pet carrier buyers mainly because it is an inexpensive, compact, soft, and easy care product.

K9 Sport Sack AIR

K9 Sport Sack AIR: photo

This durable, multi-function K9 Sport Sack AIR pet backpack is a front-facing, legs-in, veterinarian-approved safe-travel carrier for small- and medium-sized dogs up to 30 lbs. This carrier can convert to a shoulder strapped side bag, car seat, or handheld bag. It has a safety D-ring for secure collar hook-up and easy-pull zipper.

It has two mesh-lined, Foam-Tek, slotted shoulder strap. A clip-on sternum strap attaches to reduce pressure. Breathable, washable micro-fiber allows maximum ventilation. It also features adjustable side pockets and Velcro strips for attaching safety lights, name tag, etc.

The main drawback is lack of storage for personal items (i.e.: keys, cell, wallet, etc.). The XS size may also be too big for very small/teacup pets.

Recommendations:

This pet carrier backpack comes in a variety of colors and is veterinarian-approved and safe for travel. It is USA Made with a 30-Day Quality Guarantee, but carrying any dog over 30 lbs. voids the K9 Sport Sack Warranty.

Mogoko Pet Dog Cat Puppy Portable Airline Travel Approved Carrier Backpack Bag

Mogoko Dog Cat Backpack Bag: photo

This Mogoko pet backpack is a front-facing, legs-in, airline-approved carrier that provides safe-travel for long trips as well as for hiking, biking, and walks. It is suitable for a pet up to 15.5 lbs. This carrier has a safety interior rope and buckle that prevents your pet from escaping.

This carrier has two adjustable padded shoulder straps with buckle for stability. It is made of durable canvas with EPE foam-padded sides and back. The breathable mesh design allows maximum ventilation. It has two mesh panels for added visibility and mesh side pockets for extra leash, water bottle, etc. storage. The zippered top-entry allows easy pet access and the elastic neckline window may be adjusted to fit the pet’s head. The removable pet cushion pad may be hand-washed with soap and water.

The main drawback is the over-flexibility of the bottom cushion. It may not provide adequate stability for heavier animals.

Recommendations:

This pet carrier backpack is airline-approved and an accepted pet carrier on most commercial airlines (i.e.: Southwest, American Airlines, JetBlue, Delta, United, etc.).

Soft-Sided Pet Carrier Backpack for Small Dogs and Cats by Pawfect Pets

Backpack for Small Dogs: photo

The Pawfect foldable pet carrier is a front-facing, legs-in, soft-sided 17” H x 11” W x 11” D backpack designed with walks, hikes, long trips, and flying in mind. It is suitable for pets up to 10 lbs. This carrier has escape-proof mesh and zipper buckles. It has a safety leash tether/collar hook for securing your pet when the top panel is open for air.

This carrier has two thickly-padded adjustable shoulder straps. Breathable, washable micro-fiber allows maximum ventilation. It has two mesh (top and front) zippered panels for entrance and airflow. The two removable fleece pet cushion pads may also be hand-washed with soap and water.

The main drawback can be its size that may be too small for bigger and longer pets. Always accurately measure your pet before purchasing your pet carrier backpack.

Recommendations:

This is the largest airline-approved (i.e.: Southwest, JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta, United, etc.) backpack pet carrier. It is recommended if your pet flies with you due to its escape-proof, ventilation, visibility, durability, and portability/storage characteristics. It folds flat.

What First-Time Dog Backpack Carrier Users Should Know

If you are unfamiliar with choosing and using a dog backpack, buy a less expensive one first. After you and your pet adapt to using it, you can upgrade to a more durable carrier or one that is made for longer trips.

Pros & Cons

The primary benefit is the relief of not having to leave your furry friend home alone. Most models also have pockets/space to carry most of what your dog and you need while outdoors. There are no restriction on how long you stay out since your tired puppy has a “ride” home after a long day of activity.

Most of these carriers are for smaller pets. Not all of them are machine washable, have storage or well-padded straps, or are accepted on airlines.

Product Comparison – At a Glance

Product Straps Ventilation Max Pet Weight Price
PAWABOO
PAWABOO Pet Carrier Backpack min: photo
Adjustable; worn front or back 2 mesh side panels 22 lbs.  
TOMKAS
TOMKAS Small Dog Carrier Sling min: photo
Adjustable Breathable soft fabric 12 lbs. (Recommended: 10 lbs.)  
K9 Sport Sack
K9 Sport Sack AIR min: photo
Adjustable foam-slotted; extra clip-on sternum strap Fully-ventilated sides 30 lbs.  
Mogoko
Mogoko Dog Cat Backpack Bag min: photo
Adjustable Mesh windows and head-out design 15.5 lbs.  
Pawfect Pets
Backpack for Small Dogs min: photo
Extra-thick padding; adjustable Breathable materials; airflow 10 lbs.  

Conclusion

A hands-free dog backpack carrier lets you safely take your furry friend with you. Lighter weight, and more comfortable, self-clean/easy-care, and durable materials are constantly being invented/discovered. Similarly, these products in the future will all be escape-proof, have wi-fi connections, and provide your pet a motionless, pressurized/climate controlled compartment.